Coffee consumption and cancer – Part two

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Following on from the last post, here is some further information on the research on the topic of coffee consumption and cancer. This focuses on coffee consumption and breast, ovarian and endometrial cancers, coffee consumption and cancers at other sites and mode of coffee preparation.

Coffee consumption and breast, ovarian and endometrial cancers
Research has shown that coffee consumption is not linked to an increased risk of breast cancer, and no association between coffee consumption and the incidence of breast cancer has been found in post-menopausal women. However, in pre-menopausal women, the consumption of around 4 cups of coffee a day has been associated with a 38% lower risk of breast cancer. This effect seems to be even greater in pre-menopausal women at high risk, as a reduction in risk of 25-70% with daily consumption of 4-6 cups of coffee has been reported.

Studies have also shown an interaction of coffee with another genetic variable related to breast cancer, with a 64% reduction in risk of breast cancer reported in women with a specific genotype but no effect in women with a different genotype.

These studies highlight the potential importance of individual genetic variability on diet-disease associations.
A recent meta-analysis of studies has also found no effect of coffee consumption on the development of ovarian cancer, whilst coffee drinkers are thought to be 20% less likely to develop endometrial cancer than non-coffee drinkers.

Coffee consumption and cancers at other sites
Research has found no link between coffee and skin cancer. However, a couple of studies suggest that caffeine may protect cancer cells against the harmful effects of UVB radiation.

A recent review of studies looking at coffee and lung cancer has reported an increased risk of lung cancer in those with a high coffee intake. Individuals reporting an intake of between 5-7 cups daily had a 27% higher risk of developing lung cancer. However, further evidence is required to clarify this association, due to the potential confounding effects of smoking and other factors.

There is also some evidence for lower occurrence of brain tumours in coffee consumers, with consumption of at least 5 cups of coffee or tea a day, compared with no tea or coffee, being associated with a 40% lower risk of brain tumours.
More research is needed to clarify the link between coffee and brain tumours.

Mode of coffee preparation
The mode of preparation has also been noted as an influencing factor with a recent Swedish study being the first to look at the influence of the method of coffee preparation on cancer risk, finding that the risk of cancer could vary between drinkers of filtered or boiled coffee.

In summary there have been approximately 500 studies from America, Europe and Asia which have evaluated the potential link between coffee drinking and the risk of developing cancer. They show that moderate coffee drinking does not appear to be associated with an increased risk of developing cancer. They also suggest that, in some cases, moderate coffee consumption may be associated with a lower risk of cancer; however, further studies are needed before any firm conclusions can be drawn.

For more information on coffee and cancer, and to view information sources, click here.

This information is intended for Healthcare professional audiences.
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